Features

Meet the Pothole Pro: JCB's answer to our pothole problems

JCB looks to fix the UK's potholes with its innovative new machine

Potholes blight our roads, wreaking havoc on tyres, wheels and suspension systems, while road users who spot these pockmarks at the last minute and swerve around them can present significant danger to others. Those on bikes, scooters and motorbikes, meanwhile, may find themselves unseated from their rides, sometimes fatally so. 

The UK has a huge pothole problem, and it’s caused by a combination of two major factors that operate in a vicious circle. The first is that traffic volumes have risen hugely over the last three decades or so, causing increased wear and tear on our roads. Second, the UK’s weather sees our plentiful rain seep into cracks in the road, while the cold winters cause this moisture to freeze, expand, and damage already worn surfaces, which traffic pounds yet further. 

Research from the RAC shows that poor-quality roads are the number-one concern for drivers in this country, but things should be improving thanks to a £2.5billion ‘pothole fund’ that’s been set up by the Government, and the machine you see here: JCB’s PotholePro.

The PotholePro is the latest release from JCB, one of the UK’s largest private companies, and it brings several advantages over traditional pothole-repair methods. The first of these is time, with the PotholePro able to significantly cut how long it takes to repair road imperfections. It’s four times quicker than established methods, allowing potholes to be filled in as little as eight minutes. And, given that time is money, using the machine means councils can cut costs to the tune of 50 per cent. Such efficiency means more potholes can be repaired, with one machine being able to fix 700 a month, according to JCB, making far shorter work of the million or so potholes that require filling in the UK.

Indeed, the PotholePro is such a significant new member of JCB’s 300-plus arsenal of diggers, loaders, tractors and machines that its development was personally overseen by the firm’s chairman, Lord Bamford, son of JCB’s founder.

Lord Bamford is outspoken in his distaste of potholes, calling them “the scourge of our nation”, adding that just as the country is “quite rightly fixated on this dreadful problem”, so too is he “fixated on finding a solution”. 

Key to the PotholePro’s efficiency is that it combines several operations. Typically, repair crews arrive on scene in a 7.5-tonne truck complete with all manner of kit, standing on the road, often exposing themselves to danger as they cut, hammer and dig out tarmac around the offending road scar in readiness for it being filled. 

With the PotholePro, all preparation can be carried out by one machine, which can travel to its destination at up to 25mph, then scrape and cut the pothole out, all controlled from the comfort and safety of the machine’s cab. The rotating brush and bucket even clean up the surface, leaving it ready for crews to fill with fresh tar before moving on to their next job.

James Harper, a highways team manager from Stoke-On-Trent city council, says the PotholePro “has huge benefits”, not only due to the speed with which it can prepare potholes, but also because it’s safer. “Our lads can stay in the cab, and the machine will do all the work”, he says. “It’ll be working a live carriageway, so it reduces health and safety risks, and all the backbreaking stuff.”

Like most sophisticated machines, the PotholePro isn’t cheap, with an estimated price tag of £165,000. However, councils can spread that cost, with finance coming in at around £600 a month. That’s still a tidy sum, but the PotholePro cuts the cost of a repair from £60 to £30. And when you consider the millions authorities pay in compensation each year after pothole strikes, expect to see one of these machines on a road near you soon. 

Learn how you can claim against pothole damage to your car here...

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
‘The 2030 combustion engine ban is just around the corner – and we’re running out of time’
opinion: charging
Opinion

‘The 2030 combustion engine ban is just around the corner – and we’re running out of time’

Andy Palmer sees electric car uptake revving-up in the UK but says targeted investment is needed to prevent a stall…
22 Jun 2021
Exclusive: Jaguar’s luxury reinvention to start from £100k
Thierry Bollore - Jaguar I-Pace
Jaguar

Exclusive: Jaguar’s luxury reinvention to start from £100k

New boss Thierry Bollore reveals that Jaguar will be reinvented as a luxury car brand to take on Bentley, with the design of a new family already sign…
22 Jun 2021
New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review
Mercedes C-Class - front
Mercedes C-Class

New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review

The new Mercedes C-Class compact exec gets S-Class-inspired tech and new suspension to challenge the BMW 3 Series
21 Jun 2021
New Dacia Duster facelift launched with fresh styling and more tech
Dacia Duster facelift - front
Dacia Duster

New Dacia Duster facelift launched with fresh styling and more tech

The budget-conscious Dacia Duster has been updated for 2021 with some subtle design tweaks and a new eight-inch infotainment screen
22 Jun 2021
New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space
Peugeot 308 SW - front
News

New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space

The Peugeot 308 SW joins the hatchback in the range and arrives with two plug-in hybrid options
22 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review
Volkswagen Caddy California MPV - front
Volkswagen Caddy

New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review

It’s a family hauler and weekend camper all rolled into one, but is the Volkswagen Caddy California any good?
21 Jun 2021
New 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge EV on sale priced from £49,950
Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge - front
Volvo XC40

New 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge EV on sale priced from £49,950

Volvo has revised the electric XC40’s pricing and trim-level structure, with a simplified three-tier system
22 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review
Volkswagen ID.4 GTX
Volkswagen ID.4 SUV

New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review

VW ID.4 EV gets another electric motor and four-wheel drive in hot GTX form
21 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 2021 review
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 - front
Volkswagen Golf GTI Hatchback

New Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 2021 review

The new special edition Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 is one of the best cars ever to wear the GTI badge
23 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron 2021  front
Audi Q4 e-tron

New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review

We get involved with the new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron SUV on UK roads for the first time
17 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021